Posts Tagged ‘minimum down payment’

Big VA Loan Changes for 2020!

December 12, 2019

Exciting new changes are coming for VA loans that close after January 1, 2020.  These two major changes will make it easier for military veterans to purchase a home.

The first change is that the threshold for VA jumbo loans will rise from $484,350 to $510,400.  This rise aligns with the increase in the conventional conforming loan limit.  This means that the higher VA jumbo interest rates will now apply only to loans exceeding $510,400.

The second change is expected to be 0% down payments on all VA loans.  The VA hasn’t officially released details on their max loans as of this post. Again, the expectation is no down payments will be required on VA loans in 2020.

Until now, veterans will full eligibility could obtain zero down loans on principal amounts only up to the VA jumbo threshold.  So the maximum zero down loan in 2019 is $484,350.  Loan amounts above this threshold have previously required down payments.  I won’t bore you with the complicated calculation now.  The key point is that veterans can now obtain 100% financing on homes priced up to $950,000.

This is a GREAT change for one of my current clients.  My client served for over 10 years, but the military doesn’t pay top dollar.  He and his wife were not able to save much money during his military days.  He recently started a very high paying job in Atlanta.  His credit score is over 800.  With his strong income, his debt to income ratio on a $750,000 home would fall well within VA underwriting guidelines.  He can make the monthly payments and he has a strong record of paying his bills on time.  He just has not been able to save for a significant down payment with his prior military pay.  Starting January 1, he will be able to buy that $750,000 home with zero down!  He is the “poster-child” for this VA loan change.

Do you know a military veteran here in Georgia?  Perhaps you see the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps stickers on her car in the office parking lot.  When she complains about her commute, ask her how her life would change if she cut her commute by 30 minutes each way.  Then introduce her to me.  I’ll work to get her a great deal on a VA loan, taking advantages of the benefits she earned through her military service.  A new home closer to the office will make her life much better.

Is It Time to Refinance An FHA Mortgage?

October 11, 2019

As discussed previously, using an FHA loan to buy a home makes sense for home buyers with relatively low credit scores and limited down payment funds. FHA loans offer very attractive pricing for these home buyers.

Interest rates have now fallen to their lowest level in three years, so it may be time for current FHA mortgage holders to consider a conventional mortgage refinance. The interest rate savings may not be huge, but changing from FHA mortgage insurance to private mortgage insurance could bring significant financial benefits.

I’m working with a couple now (we’ll call them Jack and Diane) who bought their home in 2017.  At that time, their qualifying credit score was in the mid-600’s and they had just enough cash for the FHA minimum down payment.  This was an ideal scenario for an FHA mortgage.

Fast forward to 2019 – their credit scores have increased and home appreciation in their neighborhood has given them more equity.  A conventional loan now makes sense for their updated situation.  They can refinance to a new interest rate that is just 0.25% less than their current rate.  Normally such a small monthly savings, by itself, does not justify the cost of refinancing.

In addition to the interest rate savings, they will also save money every month with lower mortgage insurance payments.  Switching from their FHA loan to a conventional loan will lower the mortgage insurance monthly premiums by about $120.  Their total monthly savings equal $160, and their refinance has a break-even point of just over two years.  Considering the interest rate savings plus the mortgage insurance savings makes their refinance worthwhile.

An added benefit is that their new private mortgage insurance will cancel in a few years (unlike the FHA insurance which is permanent), increasing their monthly savings to about $200. So, Jack and Diane will realize this bonus savings in just a few years.

Ultimately, home buyers who used an FHA loan two or three years ago may reap big rewards from a conventional refinance now, assuming their property value has increased.

Ron moved into your neighborhood in the last three years or so. At the neighborhood Halloween party, ask Ron if he has heard of an FHA mortgage. If he replies, “Yes, that’s the type of loan I have,” ask him if he would like to lower his monthly payment.  Then connect Ron with me.  We will quickly determine whether moving to a conventional mortgage can help Ron financially.

American Homebuying Power Grows

September 26, 2019

Overall economic circumstances keep improving for potential homebuyers.  First American’s Real House Price Index (RHPI) shows that Americans’ homebuying power increased consistently from January through July 2019.  The index tracks single-family home price changes adjusted for mortgage interest rate changes and personal income changes.

Mortgage interest rates trended downward during the first half of 2019, and they are even lower now compared to mid-year.  First American reported mortgage rates in January were 4.5%, and rates moved into the 3’s over the summer.  Average household income increased over the same time period.

Decreasing mortgage rates combined with increasing household incomes provide a double boost to Americans’ home buying power.  The Index’s “house-buying power” for consumers increased roughly 10% from January through July.  According to First American’s Chief Economist, Mark Fleming, “House-buying power is at the highest it’s been since we began tracking it in 1991.”

That means now is a great time to buy a home!  Even though home prices have been increasing, the decrease in mortgage rates coupled with household income growth make right now the best time to buy a home in almost 30 years, based on the RHPI measures.

Do you have a Georgia friend who complains about a landlord who won’t fix problems?  Let them know that their homebuying power is stronger than it has been in decades, and connect them with me.  I’ll help them obtain the best home mortgage for their unique situation as quickly as possible.  I’ll help your friend take advantage of today’s really low mortgage rates before they increase to 2018 levels or even higher.  Together, we will fire their unresponsive landlord!

Which Type of Mortgage To Use – Scenario 1

August 13, 2019

Now that everyone understands the basics of FHA and conventional loans, let’s do a buyer comparison. Both Jack and Diane want to purchase a $300,000 home. They both have $11,000 (3.7%) for the down payment and qualifying credit scores of 680 for Jack and 795 for Diane.

With Jack’s 680 credit score, his monthly payment for a conventional loan (principal, interest, and mortgage insurance “MI”) would be $1,820.82.  For a FHA loan, his payment would be $1,563.19. There’s no comparison. For Jack, the better deal is the FHA mortgage, even though it has the draw backs of the up-front mortgage insurance and the permanent monthly mortgage insurance payment.

With Diane’s 795 credit score, her monthly payment for a conventional loan would only be $1,582.61. Her FHA loan payment would be $1,542.47.  In this case, Diane is also better off, at least initially, with the FHA loan. One thing to keep in mind is the MI premium. If Diane chooses the FHA loan, that premium is permanent (assuming Congress does not change the law). If she chooses the conventional loan, the insurance will eventually be cancelled, dropping her payment to $1,442. The key question for Diane is, “How long will you stay in the home?” If less than 5 years, Diane’s best bet is the FHA loan. If longer than 5 years, Diane may want to consider the conventional loan.

Notice the FHA payments for these examples. They differ by only about $21 even though the credit scores are drastically different (680 versus 795). This shows why FHA is better for those making a purchase with lower credit scores. The buyer doesn’t see as steep of an increase in their payment.

In the next blog post, we will make the same comparison with a 10% down payment.

Does your friend Scott talk about buying a house?  Does he understand which loan program is best for him?  If not, have Scott contact me. We Dunwoody Mortgage professionals understand the details of these mortgage programs, and we coach our buyers to make the best decision given their circumstances.  Often, with a slight change to their home purchase situation (change of down payment, paying down a credit card balance, etc.), we can help our clients save money with a better interest rate or a lower mortgage insurance cost.  Home buyers should consider all options before buying, and Dunwoody Mortgage offers the service and knowledge to help home buyers make the best decision possible.

More potential changes to FHA loans

August 6, 2019

I’ve thrown up a posts over the past couple of months (here and here) about potential changes for condo purchases using FHA loans. How about a change on FHA loans that is beneficial for everyone!

A new bill working its way through Congress would make mortgage insurance for FHA more like mortgage insurance for conventional loans.

Currently, FHA mortgage insurance is permanent unless the buyer makes a 10% down payment. When making a down payment as large as 10%, often buyers use a conventional loan. Maybe there is a case where someone still wants to do an FHA loan (for example, a foreclosure 3 years ago is OK on FHA loans but not OK for conventional loans), but often 10% down means a buyer is using a conventional loan for their purchase.

With FHA’s current permanent monthly mortgage insurance, it makes FHA loans much less competitive with conventional loans. The new bill looks to change this situation.

If passed, the bill would change the cancellation date on FHA mortgage insurance from “until the loan is paid in full” (meaning permanent for the life of the loan) to when the loan balance is 78% of the homes original value. Meaning, the mortgage insurance is no longer permanent.

The current set up with mortgage insurance on FHA loans really isn’t fair to the home buyer. They are way over charged paying mortgage insurance for the life of the loan, and the change could make FHA loans are more viable alternative for buyers making the minimum down payment on a home purchase.

Can’t decide if an FHA is right for you? Contact me and we’ll find out! If you are buying a home in the state of Georgia, I can also get you prequalified and ready to make an offer on your new home.

Types of Mortgages – Conventional

July 30, 2019

Now let’s take a look at conventional mortgage details.  (Click here to review FHA loan details.  And here is a link to the Home Ready program changes.)

In general, conventional loans are less forgiving of credit issues than are FHA loans.  Conventional loans require longer wait times after derogatory credit events like foreclosure or bankruptcy.  And the borrower’s credit score has a much greater impact on conventional loan pricing versus FHA loans.  The lower one’s credit score, the higher the interest rate.  In some cases, a credit score 100 points lower could cause the borrower’s interest rate to increase by almost one percentage point.

Ultimately, this makes conventional mortgages less attractive to borrowers with lower credit scores and more attractive to those with higher credit scores.

Conventional loans do not require up-front mortgage insurance, but private mortgage insurance (“PMI”) is required for down payments less than 20%.  PMI rates vary based on the borrower’s credit score and down payment.  For the same loan amount, the monthly PMI will be dramatically different for a 690 credit score borrower making a 5% down payment vs. a 780 credit score borrower making a 15% down payment.  PMI is not permanent.  It automatically terminates when the borrower’s loan balance reaches 78% of the original contract price or appraised value (whichever is lower).  And, in certain circumstances, the borrower can request PMI cancellation prior to reaching the 78% threshold.

Borrowers can obtain a conventional loan with a minimum 3% down payment.  This often only makes sense when the borrower’s credit score is 720 or higher.  With a lower score, the PMI cost for a 3% down loan can get pretty expensive.  We often recommend that conventional buyers make a 5% or more down payment to keep PMI costs lower.

Another advantage of conventional loans is the maximum loan amount.  While FHA caps out at a purchase price of around $390,000 using the minimum down payment, conventional loans can go higher.  How much higher?  How about a $500,000 purchase price with a 3% down payment.  That is about 25% higher than the FHA maximum.

In the next posts, we will compare some hypothetical home buyer scenarios to determine which loan is best – conventional or FHA.  Do you know someone who wants to buy a Georgia home?  Please refer them to me.   We Dunwoody Mortgage professionals ask important questions to determine if we can help our clients make slight changes (down payment amount, paying down a credit card balance, etc.) that help them save money with a better interest rate and / or lower PMI premium.  We work hard to deliver excellent service and pricing to our customers, and our consistently positive reviews show our clients are pleased with our work.

 

Types of Mortgages – FHA

July 23, 2019

Given recent mortgage program changes, now is a good time to review the pros and cons of the major loan programs and when borrower circumstances favor one specific loan program.  In the last few years, many of our clients have used the conventional Home Ready program.   Without Home Ready, many of these buyers would have used FHA loans.  Given the Home Ready changes, we expect more future buyers to use FHA loans.

So let’s talk about FHA loans!

  • In the metro-Atlanta area, buyers can purchase homes up to about $390,000 using a minimum down payment (3.5%) FHA loan.  That is a lot of home!
  • Relative to conventional mortgages, FHA loans are generally more forgiving of credit “issues.”  This means lower credit score borrowers will most likely get a better FHA interest rate versus a conventional loan.
  • FHA allows for lower credit scores and shorter wait times following derogatory credit events, such as foreclosure or bankruptcy.  Borrowers typically need a 620 score to qualify.  Depending on other borrower details, Dunwoody Mortgage may be able to close loans where the borrower’s credit score is as low as 580.

Both FHA and conventional loans require monthly mortgage insurance “MI” for down payments less than 20%.  For FHA, the monthly premium is a flat 0.85% of the loan amount.  Conventional loans determine the premium based on the borrower’s credit score and down payment.  FHA loans also have an up-front mortgage insurance premium.  FHA monthly MI is permanent if the down payment is less than 10%.  Note that Congress is now considering a bill to automatically cancel FHA MI similar to how conventional loans cancel the insurance.  More to come on this story.

In the next post, we will review conventional loan details.  For now, if you know someone looking to buy a Georgia home, please refer them to me.  We Dunwoody Mortgage professionals understand the key loan program details and we coach our buyers to make the best decision given their circumstances.  We can help our clients find ways to lower interest and mortgage insurance costs.  We have a strong record full of very positive customer reviews.


Inventory levels still low

February 21, 2019

If you think you’ve heard this before… it is because you have. Inventory levels are still low across the country. Low inventory levels push home values up due to the simple application of supply-and-demand. This is one of the main reasons home values have jumped so much in the past couple of years. How did we get here? There are a couple of reasons:

  • During the Great Recession, very few homes were being built. After many years of very little new construction (coupled with more people wanting to buy homes), a squeeze on inventory occurred.
  • While unemployment was high during the Great Recession, many people put off buying a home until their financial situation was more stable. This creates a pent up demand on those wanting to buy homes. This increases competition for the few homes available on the market.
  • Homeowners are remaining in their homes longer. We are at the highest rate of owners keeping their homes in 18 years. The length of time is now up to 7 years, which is a 10% increase year over year.

There are many reasons why people may choose to remain in their homes longer (they have a low rate on their current home, fear of finding their new home, tighter loan qualifying guidelines), but one new factor are baby boomers choosing to live/age in place. As baby boomers remain in their current homes (instead of down sizing or moving into assisted living), it again tightens the amount of available inventory. Of course, this will not always be the case. Baby boomers (along with the silent generation) own over 50% of the homes in America. As they age, we may find ourselves in the exact opposite situation – too much inventory.

Until we get there, how can someone make their offer stand out? There are a couple of things to do.

  1. Make a non-contingent offer on the purchase. For those who own their current home, qualifying to carry two mortgages means an offer can be made without a contingency. A seller with multiple offers would find that more attractive. Homes are going fast, so it is not very likely one would carry both home loans for an extended period of time. For those who need equity from the current home for the down payment on the new home, there is always the method of recasting the loan after closing. A future post will cover recasting.
  2. Get pre-underwritten prior to making an offer. In this method, the buyer applies for the home loan with a “to be determined” property address. Once approved, the offer letter to a seller simply says the buyer is ready to close pending an appraisal and final underwriting approval. This is a quick close and the seller knows the buyer is legitimate. Rodney Shaffer covers this more in-depth with this post.
  3. For first time home buyers (and repeat buyers too), look to use Home Ready. This is a conventional loan requiring only a 3% down payment. Some sellers would prefer not accepting an FHA offer, so Home Ready allows for a smaller down payment than FHA (3% vs 3.5%), and is still a conventional loan. Couple this with the “pre-underwrite” option and have even more power behind potential offers. There are conventional loans with only 3% down that are not Home Ready loans, but Home Ready has some advantages over the “standard” 3% down conventional loan that buyers would want to take advantage of if they qualify. Here is a case study on a Home Ready loan.

Yes, it is a tight market when it comes to available homes to purchase. That doesn’t mean buyers should despair. There are ways to help make the offer more attractive to sellers. Looking to buy in the state of Georgia? If so, contact me today. We can start talking about any or all of these potential options.

 

Homebuyer Economic Analysis

February 20, 2019

Recent economic reports show interesting data and forecasts regarding home buyers.  A survey of 100 economists by Zillow and Pulsenomics, LLC reported that almost 60% believe that home values are more sensitive to changing interest rates than in prior years.  One economist noted that if mortgage rates rise to 5.5%, a home buyer would need a $35,000 lower home price to keep the same monthly payment.  Buyers on tight budgets would have a more limited available home inventory, and others might stretch their budgets rather than lowering their target price.

Even with interest rate uncertainty, a majority of economists surveyed expect increasing first-time buyer activity this year.  These economists forecast that the homeownership rate will climb above its historical average over the next five years.

What is the difference between first-time buyers who actually buy versus those who want to buy, but don’t?  The answer is about $30,000 of annual income.  A recent study by RealEstate.com showed that the first-time home buyers have a $72,500 median income.  Their income is significantly higher than those people who want to buy their first home but do not actually buy.  The latter group earns a $42,500 median income.


This higher income helps buyers in two ways.  Firstly, they can afford larger monthly payments based on underwriting debt to income guidelines.  Secondly, the higher incomes allow these buyers to save more money which they use for down payments and closing costs.  A recent Zillow study reports that first-time buyers make a median 14.5% down payment.

Ultimately, financing a home purchase is challenging for many buyers.  These buyers need a mortgage professional to structure the best loan possible.  The loan structure will determine the interest rate, mortgage insurance, and the amount of home the buyer can purchase.  And special programs exist that offer discounted interest rates with a minimum 3% down payment for home buyers who qualify.  Getting into the best loan program, a slight down payment change, or paying off another debt at closing can help the home buyer save thousands over the loan’s lifetime.  That is a key reason why selecting the right mortgage professional is so important. 

Do you have a friend or relative who wants to buy a home in Georgia?  Refer them to me at Dunwoody Mortgage.  I will help them structure the best loan for their financial situation.


Help With Down Payments

January 23, 2019


Restating the main theme from the prior post, people who want to buy homes do not need “great” credit scores or large down payments.  Home buyers can obtain mortgages with as little as 3.0% down.  What about those people who have not saved enough for the low down payment plus closing costs plus prepaid escrow?  Do they have any options to help cover their required cash to close?  The answer is, “YES!” Here are some options for cash-strapped buyers:

  • Request that the seller contribute cash at closing to help cover the closing costs and prepaid escrow.  Mortgage guidelines allow the seller to contribute specific percentages of the home sale price to cover transaction costs and escrow, but not the down payment.  If the buyer’s agent can negotiate that the seller helps cover these items, then it can be done within the guidelines.  The greater the down payment, the more the seller can contribute.
  • Borrow from an employer-sponsored retirement account.  In many cases, home buyers with 401K or other retirement accounts may be able to borrow against the account balance to help purchase a home.  These are loans – the home buyer signs paperwork agreeing to repay the retirement account.  Different retirement plan managers have different rules, so home buyers should check with their HR departments and retirement plan managers to determine their eligibility.  Buyers can use retirement funds to cover down payment, escrow and loan costs.

  • Obtain a cash gift from a blood relative.  Parents, grandparents, siblings, and other blood relatives are allowed to give cash to help home buyers.  “Give” is the key word because all parties must sign documents stating the funds are a gift and not a loan, so no repayment is expected.  A recent Wall Street Journal article notes that now more first time buyers obtain relative gifts to help buy their homes.  Buyers can use gift funds to cover down payment, escrow and loan costs.
  • Government down payment assistance programs.  These programs are available from many state, county, and city governments.  They often require home ownership education classes and other commitments from home buyers.  These assistance programs may have income requirements.

The good news here is that cash-strapped home buyers can obtain low down payment loans and many can use one of these options to help close their loan.  Do you know someone who wants to buy a Georgia home but has limited cash?  Connect them with me.  We at Dunwoody Mortgage will help them explore all available options to buy a home sooner rather than later.